Monday, November 05, 2007

Pulp-a-Palooza

In my recent review of Otto Penzler's mammoth collection The Big Book of Pulp Fiction I mentioned that it is the only such book that gives the reader a real sense of what pulp fiction was really like because it includes so many different types of stories. Not just Chandler-Hammett but a cross-section of worthy lesser knowns who wrote just about every kind of suspense story a feller could think up.

And the good stuff keeps on coming:

MAX BRAND: Ten Crime Stories edited by Wm. F. Nolan, Jr. Nolan has edited some masterful collections previously and this is one of his best. Brand was one of the most famous of all pulp writers. But he also made extraordinary money in the slicks and in Hollywood. Whatever the format, Brand was up to the task as these stories, culled from both the pulps (including Black Mask) and million-selling magazines The American and Colliers. Whether he was writing westerns, sea adventures or suspense (or his famous Dr. Kildare novels), Brand emphasized character as well as action and it's the people that keep these stories fresh for readers today. An excellent addition to The Lost Classics Series from Crippen & Landru.

JOEL TOWNSLEY ROGERS: Night of Horror and Other Stories. Rogers is remembered today for one of the strangest and most compelling mystery novels ever written, The Red Right Hand. But like Brand he was a writer who worked for the pulps as well as the slicks. These stories, from sources as well-known as The Saturday Evening Post and as forgotten as Mystery Book Magazine, show that Rogers, like Brand, was a first-class yarn-spinner. No matter what the tale, though, there's always an effective hint of the macabre or ironic in Rogers' material whether that be in the straightforward "The Hanging Rope" from New Detective or "Pink Diamond" from Argosy. This is another example of what magazine fiction was really like back in the Thirties and Forties. And if you've got a taste for it, this is a book you'll want to have. Volume Two is already on the way.

1 comment:

Richard S. Wheeler said...

Max Brand was one of many pseudonyms of Frederick Faust, one of the most successful pulp writers ever. He was a war correspondent in World War Two, and was killed in Italy in 1944. His westerns in particular live on, even though he actually hated the real west. He wanted to be a poet. He is easier than Zane Grey for a modern to read, which is not to say that Faust's prose is good. It isn't. He supposedly wrote about 20,000 words a day. Max Brand still has a residual following.